Gayblack Canadian Man

Foreign Policy Analysis
U.S. Imperialism – Part 2 – OpenBUCS

U.S. Imperialism – Part 2 – OpenBUCS


So in the last segment I talked a bit about some of the reasons I
think that, that lie behind the United States’ movement toward joining a larger imperialism that’s
going on worldwide, especially European powers moving into
Africa and Asia. But now I, I want to kind of get at the early stages of American imperialism. One of the things to think about is that the generation that fought the Civil War
was really reluctant I think to engage in another
war. They had seen the blood shed, they had experienced the terror of war. But there were by the 1880’s, certainly, members of a new generation, people
who hadn’t necessarily seen first hand the terrors and such of the experiences in the
War. And so it’s really in the 1880’s that interest in expanding American
military and then American expansion itself really begins
to take off. Until the 1880’s, the United States Navy
consisted of a few obsolete wooden ships. The security of the US lay in the
distance of the oceans. In other words that it wouldn’t make a lotta sense for most
European powers, short of a major crisis, to send their
navy’s across to attack the United States, and those navy’s probably wouldn’t do too much awful damage giving that the US now expanded across the continent. Also the United States on land had
relatively weak neighbors militarily. But it’s the
elite members of this new generation, a generation
coming of age by the 1880’s, that really begins the push to renew or
revive the American military presence. A
presence that ultimately can lead the United States to have a role
beyond its immediate continental borders. One of the key
figures in setting the kind of ideology for this new imperialism- emphasis on expansion is Alford T. Mahan. He writes in 1890 the influence of sea power upon
history. In this book, he argues that the United States will need to build foreign markets for the products being produced by this
new and growing US economy. We’ll also need access to resources. Resources that
can fuel this economy in the manufacturing taking
place. In order to get resources to the US and products to markets abroad, the United States will
need sort of merchant marine, commercial Navy- ships carrying goods and produce back
and forth. As the United States begins to build
this navy, as private individual’s, private companies, begin to build this sort of vast armada of commercial ships, Mahan argues that the
United States will need to build a navy to protect it.
And that protection, given it will be across the oceans will
require stations, mid-ocean and elsewhere, where the United States Navy will be able to refuel and spend time at base. These arguments made by Mahan will shape American naval policy and military
policy for years and years to come. In 1883 Congress okay-ed, gave permission, for the
construction for the first steam powered steel hulled warships. Three years later in 1886, two battleships are constructed, completed; the Maine and the Texas. 1890, three more battleships are commissioned: the Indiana, the
Massachusetts, and the Oregon. These ships are powerful, far different than what the United States had utilized
during the Civil War, and clearly meant for more than simply
shoreline defense or the navigation of America’s rivers. By 1900, in fact, the United States had gone from a ranking of twelfth to a
ranking of third among the world’s navy’s. The US Navy’s from twelfth to third. We had more ships, more stations, more ships to protect, ad infinitum. There was no end to how much the United States Navy or US presence
abroad would grow. You add to this notions of national
pride. What we call national spirit or
nationalism. And a willingness then once you have
that navy to put it to use. The growing potential of conflict. Two examples that reflect, I think what this new Navy means for the United
States. One example is the example of Hawaii and how the United States comes to claim
Hawaii as territory. For decades, for a long while, Hawaii had been a site of missionary work. Among other things – missionary work with colonies of lepers who had taken
residence on the island or had been infected as a as a result of
European contact or other ways. But missionary work established on the island and then
islands that are geographically important. Hawaii, that chain of islands, offered among other things one of the finest harbors in the Pacific. An important point which any Navy, if it controlled it, could create a major, major base of operations. Of course Pearl Harbor is the, it’s, it’s the key, it’s, it’s what you want. Hawaii was also known for sugar, growing
of sugar as well as other fruits, but sugar mainly. There were massive plantations on Hawaii dedicated to sugar. In 1875, the United States had by treaty made Hawaiian sugar duty-free, and that just simply means
that Hawaiian sugar would not be taxed at a
level beyond any tax placed upon sugar that was produced in the United States. Many of the planters that owned these vast sugar plantations in Hawaii were from the United States. They took
advantage of the special status granted to Hawaii. In 1890, the so-called McKinley Tariff and you’ve heard I
think in previous lectures about William
McKinley as Republican presidential candidate and President, but McKinley from Ohio will put forward while he’s still in Congress, a revised relationship, economic
relationship, with Hawaii that ends up placing duties on Hawaii’s sugar. Now what that means is that for these planters in Hawaii who have enjoyed this duty-free
relationship, that relationship is now in jeopardy. Their sugar may be taxed as foreign
sugar and that could hurt them financially. We begin to see by 1893, we begin to see active efforts by planters in Hawaii to move Hawaii toward becoming a territory of the United States. The so-called Annexation club, which was
made up primarily made up of American planters who were suffering from the new duties, was largely behind the effort. In January of 1893, a white minority overthrew Queen Liliuokalani, the Native Hawaiian Queen of Hawaii. She had been determined to drive out American influence, but instead she loses the throne. What results is fighting and the white minority calls for protection. Lo and behold elements of the newly revived American Navy are offshore and in a position to send help. John L. Stevens, the American Minister,
orders 160 Marines from the warship Boston in Honolulu to
surround Liliuokalani’s palace. It doesn’t take long afterward that a provisional government is
established. It’s already sort of in the works,
in the wings, just waiting opportunity, and then it heads off, well it heads off
to Washington. President Benjamin Harrison was
receptive. He sent a treaty of annexation to the Senate, to consider annexation of Hawaii. That was withdrawn, but five years later in 1898, William McKinley who is now President of the United States will push through annexation of the Hawaiian Islands. You see that process at work again right? This time the investment was in sugar, the presence of that investment and
of these American planners leads to division within Hawaii itself. There are questions about the security
of the investments and the future financial viability of
the investments. That leads to conflict, which in turn
leads to calls for basically military presence, enforcement. Before it’s all over the United States claims control of the
Hawaiian Islands. The process has done what the process
does. In 1895, there’s another incident, this
one involving Venezuela and it’s sort of lengthy
boundary dispute between Venezuela and British Guiana. This dispute had been going on for some
time before gold was discovered, and the threat, the real threat, is that
the British having a distinct stake in this gold and
in the outcome of the border dispute between British
Guiana and Venezuela, will intervene in the affairs of South
America. In July 1895, Secretary of State Richard Olney sent a message to the British and the British Foreign Office specifically Lord Salisbury. In which he
said that this dispute regarding Venezuela was covered by the
old Monroe Doctrine going back to 1823. That the United
States would resist any effort by European power to reinstitute control over a once liberated Central American nation or South American nation. To quote the message sent to the British, “today the United States is practically
sovereign on this continent and its fiat is law upon the subject to
which confines its interposition”. Not interpretation, but
interposition. In other words, basically de facto for all intents and
purposes, you mess with Central America against
the interest of the United States and you have the United States that will
interpose or place itself between the nation in question and the European or imperialist nations
seeking to implement its will. In essence it, it is a basis for war. The British question the Monroe Doctrine
as international law, and in the end the United States seeks
and obtains a commission to try and settle the dispute, but it’s made known the if the
commission solution doesn’t work the United States
is more than prepared to go to war. After all the United States
now has a navy with which to fight abroad, to protect the shores of South America
and Central America. The British in the 1890’s are engaged with
their own problems in South Africa, of course they’re in the midst of the Boer
War, and when it comes down to it the
Cleveland administration is willing to settle with the British on pretty
reasonable terms, to give a lot of ground. So it never
comes to war, but my point is not to suggest that it
did, my point is simply to suggest that war became a very definite possibility, that the
United States was asserting itself, with this new naval power, this new
military power, in ways that it hadn’t so much asserted
itself before. The Navy and expansion of American commerce go hand in hand. In some ways set the stage, set the stage for American imperialism and
specifically a war with Spain that really establishes the United States as
a world power.

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